A New Year. A New Challenge.

JoyAndPain

By Megan Broadhead. A New Year. Beginnings. A chance to start again. Freshness. An exhale of all that is old, and in inhale of newness, mystery, and possibility.

But not for all.

Everywhere, we read messages of meaning-making, hope, possibility, and change. These messages are a welcomed reminder of the resilience and the strength inherent in the human spirit; when we live intentionally, beautiful and new things can happen. When we tune into the ways in which our lives speak, we can be deeply blessed.

Alongside this human spirit of optimism is another reality we often forget in this time. This reality is the struggle for hope that so many experience in the wake of a new year. I’m talking about those for whom exciting possibilities are dimmed by intense heartache, loss, and pain.

Those who have spent holidays alone in an empty home listening to the tick of the clock above the unadorned mantel while reading on social media of families gathered together in a spirit of celebration and love.

Those feeling the intense loss of a loved one to mental and or physical sickness ... those engaged in a desperate search to fill the half of their heart that went missing the year before.

Those who enter a new year separate from the person with whom they’ve spent the majority of their adult life. I’m reminded of the woman for whom a “new” reality means begrudgingly entering into a fresh life of singlehood… accompanied by three children under five.

I’m reminded of the woman burdened by obsessive-compulsive thoughts of food and exercise—the one who cannot fit any idea of “a different reality in a new year” into her mindset, because disorder has taken over.

I’m reminded of the woman for whom a new year marks another year she is without child- and not due to a lack of trying in the previous year.

I’m reminded of those for whom a new year is also accompanied by a new diagnosis and the task of balancing the delicate line between hope and despair.

            I see you.

I challenge us all to see pain alongside joy and to see those among us who are struggling to comprehend a new beginning.

As a therapist, I often consider myself as the “holder of hope” for my clients. When they are unable to hold hope, I can (most of the time).

In this new year, I challenge us all to cultivate a sense of curiosity of the other. I challenge you to see not only the joy and optimism inherent in a new beginning, but also pain. My challenge is to sit with pain (that of others’ and of your own) and fight the urge to change it or move it or ignore it.

I challenge us all to really see those around us and hold the hope when they are unable.

Let's help take care of one another as we make our way into 2015.